January 22, 2009 at 5:15 pm (Interviews, Travel, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (Betts and School Black Betty, Brazil, Carmenere, Chicago's MenuPages, Court of Master Sommeliers, Gary Vaynerchuk, Gemini, Grande Cassagne, Helen Rosner, House of Suishi, Jancis Robinson, Julianne Will, Mosel Riesling, Natalie MacLean, Noodles, Rhone Valley, Richard Betts, Serra Gaucha, syrah, Turquoise Cafe, Viet Bistro, Wine Library TV)
10 Questions With…
Chicago Freelance Wine Writer
Julianne Will rocks…and is one hot mama. She blogs. She eats and drinks, travels, and has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. And wine. Did I mention wine? Buckets of creativity, a quest for perfection and a belief in the sanctity of deadlines–all part of Julianne Will’s professional writing, editing, proofing and marketing services. See juliannewill.com.
Thanks for agreeing to be a part of the Lush Wine & Spirits blog. Please answer the following questions in whatever way you see fit. We want your voice, personality, and opinions to come through!
1) What is the best thing you’ve drank in the last week? What about in the last year?
I do love water. So refreshing. And diet soda. And coffee. All three, several times a day. But in terms of wine? I had the Killer Bee Carmenere last weekend with a girlfriend. I couldn’t keep my nose out of the glass. It smelled so interesting…and tasted so great.
I’ve consumed many, many different wines over the past year. I’m not sure I could choose a favorite, though Richard Betts’ Black Betty surely deserves a shout-out. I used to keep a little notebook of the wines I’d tried, back when I was studying for the Court of Master Sommeliers introductory test, but people looked at me funny when I pulled it out.
2) What do you think is the most underrated grape varietal or region? Overrated?
I’m going to Brazil at the end of this month to investigate that country’s relatively unknown wine-producing region. And as if the country itself weren’t far enough under the grape radar, the area around Serra Gaucha was settled by Italians, adding another twist.
As varietals go, I’m really stuck right now on Syrah from the Rhone Valley. Lush has such a lovely Syrah-Grenache blend, Chateau Grande Cassagne GS, Costieres de Nimes. It tastes like purple velvet and French fussiness to me.
Honestly, if I never had Champagne again, I could live a happy life. I just don’t dig the flavor, and the new year can be rung in just as handily with a Mosel Riesling, thank you.
3) Who are your favorite food and wine writers?
I have a secret crush on Gary Vaynerchuk. He is super funny and talks fast. I like a smart, quick wit. Why do I find him hot? I have no idea (maybe that little smile that escapes between words sometimes). But I’m sure hanging with Gary would be a good time. He is mesmerizing.
Helen Rosner of Chicago’s MenuPages blog is so charmingly humble, with undertones of sassy and a gift for turns of phrase. She makes me laugh out loud at least once a day, drawing stares from the crowd at Caribou Coffee.
Jancis Robinson is a master of wine and writing and a very tough lady in an old boys’ world, I think. Even her encyclopedia entries belie a sly humor.
Finally, Natalie MacLean has a true talent for telling stories about her wine experiences that are compelling and yet a primer in wine all at the same time. Her book “Red, White and Drunk All Over” is like a refresher course for my Court of Master Sommelier studies, except this time I don’t fall asleep while reading. She also answers email personally, quite a nice touch.
4) What are your three favorite food cities?
Chicago, Chicago, Chicago. Seriously! I’ve never been anywhere with such authentic and vast diversity. I’m a geek who likes something new and odd all the time. I could eat myself silly here and never try everything. Though I’m working on it.
If I really had to choose another, I might say Boulder, Colo., too, for its wealth of relentlessly granola, green, healthy and happy options. I feel like buying a cuppa joe on the street there is saving the planet.
And frankly, while Fort Wayne, Ind., (my hometown) is nearly a chain-restaurant wasteland, I do know a lot of chefs there, and I always love to eat somewhere where I know the chef. I will leave my dinner decision in the chef’s hands, and he will be so pleased by the trust that I’ll experience the most wonderful meal ever.
5) Top three restaurants you revisit all the time in Chicago?
I try never to go to the same place twice, because my goal is to do everything. I’m not kidding at all. Everything. That being said, I do hang out a Lush a lot. Such great conversation on both sides of the counter. Does that count as a restaurant?
After I visit Lush on Sundays, I sometimes wander with my daughter down Roscoe to Turquoise Café, where the bread and the service are always warm. Three yummy cheers for lahmacun.
The two of us also go to House of Sushi and Noodles often. It’s super cheap sushi and the place is always jumping, which means that fresh fish isn’t standing around long. And the tables are so close, you never fail to make new friends.
6) What is your most memorable dining or drinking experience?
I can’t wait to go back to Viet Bistro. Dan and Rashed are the bestest chef/mixologist team ever. Even wasabi peas from a can are good in their company. (What a great night!) But tell Dan and Rashed that you are letting them serve you their favorites for the evening, and you’ll be treated like the queen mum. I went for my birthday with two girlfriends. We parked it on the swanky round, orange sofa in the front room for about seven hours while sublime food and martinis and wine appeared in front of us, accompanied by strict instructions from Rashed on what to eat first and how. Now I know how Kimora Lee Simmons rolls.
7) Between wine, beer, and spirits – when do you reach for each? If you HAD to do without one, which would it be?
At the club, I usually stick to a vodka something, most often mandarin and tonic or vanilla and Diet Pepsi. Wine at a club is risky, both in quality and in stain potential.
Beer is my backup when the people I’m drinking with have nothing else. Or when it’s really, really hot, or there’s some new fancy-pants beer at a brewpub. Otherwise, I try to avoid all that foam.
Wine is my go-to. I bring it to parties, I keep it at home for those kinds of long days, I order it in restaurants, I mark special occasions with wine. Perhaps the most special? Those nights sitting on a patio or porch with a date and a rare pack of smokes, talking till we’ve killed two bottles and don’t have any more.
8) What is the best thing about your job?
I LOVE my job. I get to write about wine! And food! And drink wine! And eat food! And travel to drink wine and eat food!
I write about all kinds of things: I have a fitness column each month (reconcile that with food and wine writing!); I write marketing pieces for a few medical practices and a private school; I write about mortgage news for one website and divorce law for another. So perhaps the best thing is the variety: As with my menus, I appreciate something new.
But I could be specializing in business and covering shareholder meetings. Instead, I’m kicking it with people who lovingly craft or serve exquisite chocolates and fish and cheese and drinks and whatever and enjoy sharing their creations and their time. Maybe it’s really the people I love. I could eat chocolate and write about it all alone in my apartment, and what fun would that be? Better to mingle and travel and earn a living at it.
9) If you had to describe yourself as a certain wine, what would it be? (i.e. Australian Shiraz – spicy, bold, and seductive. German Riesling – sometimes sweet (but hard to predict if it will be), elegant, and requiring of patience.)
Hmmm. I’m a stereotypical Gemini, so I think both of the above might nail it on the head. You’d have to ask my friends. I’d say I rock the bold and spicy aspect fairly often. At the same time, you’ll find me fairly sweet-definitely in a slightly moody, unpredictable way-and (I like to think) elegant, though sometimes my secret shyness is mistaken for snobbishness. I’m sure my daughter would agree that I require some patience. Maybe I’m just a little multiple-personality-disorderish. See my need for variety above.
10) You’re on death row (sorry). What’s your final meal?
You don’t sound very sorry that I’m on death row! J My final meal would include a salad (no joke) with spinach leaves and all kinds of crunchy vegetables and horseradish sauce and balsamic vinaigrette and salmon, followed by some really rich chocolate-macadamia nut cake with mostly frosting, followed by some chocolate-covered pretzels, maybe a mango and some garlic polenta (not together) followed with coconut-chocolate-almond-pecan ice cream topped with caramel in a crunchy waffle cone. All of it washed down with some coffee, a diet soda, a lot of water and a bottle-heck, make it two, this is death row-of really old-vine old wine, aged to an almost pale brown and whispering of raisins and cream and sunsets.
Now I’m kind of hungry….